Monthly Archives: July 2010

Quote of the Week

A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short.
               – Andre Maurois
                  French biographer, novelist and essayist
                  1885-1967

Soldier Who Leaked Documents Betrayed Our Country

I was stunned last Sunday when I read that Private Bradley E. Manning, after taking solemn oaths to protect his country and his fellow soldiers, decided that he no longer personally liked the concept of America’s participation in relieving Afghanistan of the Taliban.  Based upon his mood, he allegedly released over 90,000 classified documents via the Internet to Julien Assange, who is the person behind WikiLeaks.

Mr. Assange released the documents to the New York Times, the Guardian, and Der Spiegel instead of to the world at once, because (as he is quoted as saying): “You’d think the bigger and more important the document is, the more likely it will be reported on, but that’s absolutely not true.  It’s about supply and demand.  Zero supply equals high demand; it has value.  As soon as we release the material, the supply goes to infinity, so the perceived value goes to zero.”

Isn’t that just stunning?  The value of the documents, according to WikiLeaks, is determined by the means of distribution and not by the content?  Is this some kind of media game for attention and power?

Let me first say that I believe in the value and courage of some whistleblowing, for example, when there’s concrete evidence that a company knew its product was dangerous and that they accepted the fact some people would die because they were looking at their bottom line, and it was cheaper to pay for the deaths than change the design of their product.  That situation has occurred – in the car industry, as you may remember – and that form of whistleblowing is specifically geared only toward saving human lives.

Pvt. Bradley Manning enlisted in the Army in 2007, and was working as an Army intelligence analyst, examining classified information.  This twenty-two year old decided on his own that US foreign policy was incorrect, and tracked down a former computer hacker in Sacramento, California named Adrian Lamo, who he thought would be a soul-less mate, and told him how he had downloaded the classified information: “I would come in with music on a CD-RW labeled with something like ‘Lady Gaga,’” he told Lamo.  While pretending to sing along to Lady Gaga, Manning would actually be erasing the music from the CD and recording intelligence onto it instead.

A disgruntled pipsqueak with minimal social skills finally finds his power…putting his fellow soldiers and his country at risk.  Now, that’s being a man?

Adrian Lamo is the hero here.  Fearing that the soldier’s leaks could put American lives at risk, he went to the FBI.  “Had I not acted, I would have always wondered had I gotten someone killed,” Lamo said.  Adrian Lamo is an American hero. 

Adrian Lamo has received threats, including threats of death.  What??  I think he should be awarded the highest medal America gives to a civilian.  Talk to me about the hypocrisy of supporting Manning for so-called whistleblowing, but not Lamo.

Lamo reports Manning wanted Hillary Clinton to wake up and have a heart attack, and that Manning was trying to be an “army of one” and stop the war in Afghanistan, which Manning felt was unjust.  “He did so with the stated intention of disrupting United States’ foreign policy.”  Imagine…

Lamo said, “I don’t think that this is going to do us any good in terms of trying to build relationships and maintain relationships with our allies in the war on terror.”

Here’s more hypocrisy:  Julien Assange has WikiLeaks well insulated (which is sort of counter to his avowed position to make everyone’s “privacies” public, even if it puts lives at risk).  Key members of WikiLeaks are known only by their initials (“M,” for example) even deep within WikiLeaks, where communications are conducted by encrypted online chat services.

Will Julien Assange – “Mr. WikiLeaks” – think positively about the whistleblower that leaks all his information and that of his network?  I don’t think so.

What infuriates me even more is this situation is not being received with a huge, national, shaking reaction by either major political party or any aspect of our news media!  None of the major players, including the so-called liberal mainstream media, nor pundits like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin, and none of our politicians on either side of the aisle have pitched their tents to deal with this egregious and evil assault on the military and the United States of America.  Why no ferocious outrage?  I’ve seen more attention paid to the stupid shenanigans of Lindsay Lohan.

Perhaps it’s because this is so big – bigger than Jane Fonda sitting, smiling, on a North Vietnamese tank, for the world-wide press.  This is the concerted attempt first of one lonely, maladjusted private to betray his country and his oaths, with little or no regard for the final impact on his country and his fellow soldiers, and second, the enthusiastic response of WikiLeaks to dispense national security information to the world for the power of it, and the desire to destroy our country.

I guess this is so big a situation it boggles the mind and makes it impossible for people to neatly and simply wrap their brains around it.  It’s easier to watch reality television or listen to pots calling kettles racist.

A newspaper leaking information is something we can deal with.  The Internet dispenses information without any controls – WikiLeaks has no address and no accountability.  That is hugely frightening.  So, I think this is why there is little outrage.

I suppose the right thing is to court martial Private Bradley Manning.  I pray this ends with a firing squad, and they ask me to participate.

Betraying your country because you are an unhappy person just shows you how mundane an appearance evil can make.

The Underlying Cause of Bullying

Massachusetts’ new state law requires schools to institute an anti-bullying curriculum, investigate acts of bullying, and report the most serious cases to law enforcement officers.  The new law, passed in April, was in response to the suicide of a 15 year old girl who was bullied by a group of South Hadley, Massachusetts students.

We all remember bullying situations from our school years, but those were up close and personal, as opposed to being on the Internet, where public humiliation is the game, and anonymity is the cloak of protection for this disgusting behavior.  Cruelty gets protected by abusing the spirit of the First Amendment, as parents and the ACLU fight to protect the evildoers.

In a 1995 Canadian study, researchers used video cameras in a school playground and observed almost five bullying incident an hour!  Typically, other children stood by and watched, but did or said nothing to help.

Some psychologist-types are busy making up the expensive curriculum to sell to schools for programs to stop bullying.  I guess there’s always someone around who just wants to make a buck.

My take is that schools are afraid to discipline bullying children, because parents (who are negligent in their responsibilities to their children and society) will SUE instead of smacking their kid on the tush and putting him or her to bed without supper and grounding them until they’re ready for social security.

In my day, if you misbehaved at school, you were sent to the dreaded Vice Principal’s office.  Punishment would include a severe talking to, extra assignments, time after school, and/or a refusal to allow you to participate in school activities.  And guess what?  No parent ever complained about protecting their “baby.”  The kids would expect to get even more punishment at home.

Today?  Parents are not married…divorced…remarried…fighting with exes…shacking up with new honeys…involved in dual-career marriages…focused on porn, drugs, the Internet, shopping…whatever.
Intact families with two parents whose emphasis is family and children are getting more and more rare.  Kids see the constant squabbling on TV news, between their parents, in the neighborhood, on radio, on the Internet, where meanness reigns (does anyone post kind things any more?), and on and on.

Where, exactly, are children supposed to learn to be nice?
They don’t see nice at home, in the media, or in the world at large.
Where, then, are children supposed to learn to be nice?

Policing is the last resort in a society where there is no framework for teaching and reinforcing decent behavior.  Activist groups by nature are angry and divisive, and that trickles down to neighborhoods and schoolyards as children, fighting for attention and importance (because they’re not getting it at home), group up and torment other children without remorse and without fear of consequences.

Our children have become arrogant because they are largely on their own without parental leadership, guidance, and attention.

The adults have abandoned their responsibilities to the next generations because of their determination to sacrifice nothing and fulfill every desire in spite of their obligations.

I hear this every day on my radio program, and it makes me sad.

The epitome of bullying is the homegrown American terrorist group…which is growing.

Our country, just like our homes, is fragmented by anger.  The price is our children are modeling the book “Lord of the Flies.”

Talking Face-to-Face Is Becoming A Lost Art

I have never understood cafes which actually cater to the “I don’t want to talk to anyone” types who hog tables and chairs for hours while they play with their laptops or Kindles or cell phones or iPads.  I guess some café owners permit this (and even offer free use of computers) in order to get business.  Yeah…business.  One group of people sitting for hours can’t possibly bring in more revenue than a constant flow of sippers and munchers who stay for short periods of time.

When I walk into a café and see these hulks buried in cyberspace, I usually turn and leave.

One day, my husband and I took a motorcycle ride and decided to stop in Arroyo Grande, California for breakfast.  The area had a small “old town” feel to it, with roosters walking in the street.  We went into the café and everyone was talking!  Whenever someone new walked in, it was “Hi” all around.  Nice.

Walking around the streets of most cities, you’ll often see people on cell phones, texting or talking to themselves (otherwise known as talking through their “Look Ma, no hands” Bluetooth devices). 

It’s not nice to not interact.

Café Grumpy, in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, banned laptops and cell phones.  Besides the smell of coffee, the sound of people actually talking to each other fills the air.  In the late afternoons, people are writing on paper, reading print newspapers, and lingering over books in a corner.  The owner makes the rounds, talking to these solo patrons.  Person to person contact is made.

Humanity is resurrected…resistance is futile.

Quote of the Week

Children are educated by what the grown-up is and not by his talk.
               – Carl Jung
                  1875-1961
                  Swiss psychiatrist and
                  Founder of analytical psychology

Pleasant Surprises

A few weekends ago, my husband and I rode our motorcycles out for lunch, something we do regularly.  As we were preparing to leave for a post-lunch ride, a woman pulled up in her car to ask me about my (I’ll admit it) beautiful motorcycle.  The overall mural on the bike is gorgeous:  a free-flowing, hand-painted, artistically brilliant representation, combining Hell’s Angels and patriotic themes.

We engaged in conversation, and she commented that, at 83, she didn’t think she could get into motorcycles.  I suggested a trike.  Anyway, she told me she’d been a journalist and had interviewed a motorcycle gang quite a few years ago, and offered to send me the text.  When I gave her my contact information, she slooowllly looked up at me, and practically sneered my name:  “YOU are Dr. Laura?”  I said: “Yup.”  She immediately said, “I don’t agree with most of what you have to say.”  I responded:  “See my husband over there?  He doesn’t agree with everything I have to say either…but he still loves me.”

She looked at him, then looked at me, and a smile crept onto her face.

She sent me her article.  I invited her to dinner.  She accepted, and wrote back that most everyone who knew her would be shocked to learn we might become friends.  She came to dinner, and the first thing out of her mouth was to tell me she’d walked out of a talk I’d given a few years back.  I said nothing in response.  She then said (and this was even before bread and salad!) I seemed so different in person and so mean otherwise.  Again, I said nothing in response.  I did, however, pass the margarine.

I’m convinced too much of the time it has become more natural to dislike the person whose message is counter to your preference than it is to simply agree to disagree, or congenially debate without hate.  However, hate has become the current means of dealing with differences of opinion.

I give her lots of props, because she decided to go past the knee-jerk reaction of “shooting the messenger” to form her own opinion.

It was a pleasant evening after that.  She’s a world traveler and has met some of the most incredible people (good and bad) in history.  Her stories were fascinating.  After two hours, she left with an invitation to dinner at her home.  I’m looking forward to it. 

I don’t agree with most of what she supports either, but she is an open, charming, delightful woman, and I do hope we can become friends.  If we limit our interactions to the “choir,” life becomes quite dull.

Disregard for Hands-On Parenting

There appears to be a growing disregard for actual eyeball-to-eyeball hands-on parenting.

Christine, a new stay-at-home parent to a two-month-old daughter, emailed me immediately when she saw an article from Parenting magazine by Melissa Balmain posted on CNN.com about the deaths of infants forgotten in cars. I read the article and share her disgust.

The main story is about two people, married, with a comfortable house in Virginia, and two well-paying full-time jobs.  On top of that, they decided to adopt two babies from Guatemala.  According to this report, “..the end of August and start of September, 2007 had been stressful.  Twenty-three-month old Juan and his four-year-old brother had been sick on and off.  The mother’s days and been blurs of work, day care, doctors, business trips, visits with relatives and anxiety.”

The story then goes on that the older boy was home with the dad and the mother was supposed to drop an ill younger child off in day care.  She went to work, had a “normal day,” talked with her supervisor, ate lunch at her desk, drove to the supermarket and shopped for dinner and continued on to the day care center to pick the younger boy up.  That’s when the child was found dead in the back seat, having literally cooked to death in the heat of the locked car. 

Now, I don’t have sympathy for the parents.  I just don’t.  I don’t agree with the article that whitewashes these incidents by saying it is normal to forget things when you’re in your habit rhythm – a lapse in memory that you’re a parent only occurs when being a parent is an accessory rather than the main deal.  Let’s look at her stressful month of September:  business trips, day care, work, visits with relatives and anxiety.  How many of those factors would have been eliminated if she was a stay-at-home mom?  Answer:  ALL OF THEM,  and the child would likely be alive.

I wonder if it is accidental that all the stories I’ve read about babies cooking to death in the back of their parents’ car are the result of parents forgetting to drop them off at day care on the way to work.  Fobbing off one’s sacred responsibility of child-rearing and protecting to hired help tends to make one not have focus on that child.  Just sayin’.

The article talks about the “reptilian” or most ancient part of the brain which directs our habits, and habits dominate over short-term plans which are ordered by the more advanced brain regions.  If that excuse is so, then parents should put their reptilian brain into parenting and not business trips, work, and day care drops and pick ups.

The article ends up giving suggestions so you won’t forget your kid to die in your back seat while you are busy with what is more important.

1. Put something that really matters to you – like your cell phone – in the back seat with the child.  Do you realize that means that your cell phone is more important than your child?

2. Keep a teddy bear in the baby car seat.  When you put your kid in the seat, put the teddy in front, so you’ll see it and remember you have a child.  After all, you’re a “busy employee.”

3. Ask your child’s child-care provider to call you on your cell phone if your kid doesn’t get there.  Oh, so now the day care, minimum-wage worker is more responsible for your kid than you are?

4.  Put visual cues in your office and home reminding you to check the car seat.  Gee, I thought parental love and bonding did that.  Guess not.

My bottom line?  Don’t have ‘em if you won’t raise ‘em.

If I were in charge of adoptions, no one without a spouse at home would be allowed to adopt a child.  Children are not accessories.  They should be the main deal.